Cotabato City

CIDG catches long-wanted bombing suspect in Cotabato hospital

Rommel Rebollido

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CIDG catches long-wanted bombing suspect in Cotabato hospital
The military says the suspect, while arrested due to murder and arson cases, has been wanted since 2008 for atrocities in Cotabato province and what is now Maguindanao del Norte

GENERAL SANTOS, Philippines – Authorities pounced on a man in a hospital in Cotabato City who turned out to be long wanted for his alleged involvement in bombings in Mindanao and a string of atrocities in the Bangsamoro region since 2008.

Kuntong Basilan, who uses the aliases Tong Basilan and Michael Basilan, was arrested on Friday, May 26, based on warrants in connection to murder and arson cases, confirmed Lieutenant Colonel Rowel Gavilanes, the commander of the Army’s 90th Infantry Battalion.

Basilan, accused by the military as a member of the Karialan faction of the extremist group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), was at the state-run Cotabato Regional Medical Center when he was arrested. It was unclear exactly why the suspect was in the hospital, but authorities took him with them.

The Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) had two warrants for his arrest, one for double murder and multiple frustrated murders under Criminal Case no. 13-044, and another warrant for arson under Criminal Case no. 08-269. The suspect is now under the custody of the CIDG in Maguindanao del Norte.

Gavinales said Basilan is a bomb expert and a trusted aide of the late Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Ameril Umbra Kato, who figured in the killing of Musa Alamada alias Commander Paradise of the MILF’s 105th Base Command.

Major General Alex Rillera, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division and the Joint Task Force Central, alleged that Basilan was long wanted for a series of atrocities against soldiers and civilians in Cotabato province and what is now Maguindanao del Norte since 2008.

Rillera also alleged that Basilan worked as a gun-for-hire and was linked to harassment and landmine attacks on military installations in Sitio Risingan, Barangay Dungguan, Aleosan town in Cotabato province.

He said that in one of the cases against Basilan, the arrested suspect was accused of burning houses and other properties in Sitio Poypoyon, Barangay Dungguan, as well as in Bagolibas, Aleosan, and Baliki, Midsayap town in Cotabato some 15 years ago.

Rillera said Basilan was also blamed for gun attacks against policemen and soldiers in Sultan Kudarat town in the now defunct Maguindanao province from 2019 until 2020. –

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